A little over two years ago, Sophie Allison began writing and producing music in her Nashville bedroom under the name Soccer Mommy. Before starting a music-business major at New York University, she quickly developed a loyal following on Bandcamp with bedroom-produced EPs aptly titled “songs for the recently sad” and “songs from my bedroom.”
Story by Zoe Judilla
While in New York, she caught the attention of the infamous independent label Fat Possum and subsequently exploded onto the indie rock scene. She has since dropped out of NYU to focus on her newly-released debut studio album “Clean,” featuring blunt lyricism and intimate retrospection that received critical acclaim from various major music outlets such as Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.
ORANGE Magazine caught up with the 20-year-old indie rocker following her South by Southwest debut and prior to the start of her spring tour. Soccer Mommy will play at Stubb’s Jr. this Friday.
You have a long string of shows coming up, with dates throughout spring, supporting Liz Phair in the summer and some international dates in the fall. What are you most looking forward to in these upcoming shows?
Well I think the Liz Phair ones will be really cool—just to see her set will be crazy. For the international ones, I think getting to go back to Europe will be really fun, spending a little bit longer there and seeing more of Europe rather than just the U.K… And I feel like the venues will be a little bit bigger, which will be nice, now that the record is out and has been out for a minute. I hope more people will come. I mean, it was great last time, but hopefully there’s some growth. It’ll also be great just to travel a little bit, and in a nicer part of the year, too.
It’s been a little over a month since the release of your debut studio album “Clean,” which has been widely acclaimed. Can you speak about how it came together and what drives that album?
It was kind of just an album about going through the experience of having grown a lot from a past breakup and a past relationship—and also just about life, about going into something new, and wanting to be a different person because of it. It’s about not really being able to be different in the way that you wanted to be and realizing that. It’s kind of about coming-of-age and finding yourself. I had this debut album planned, spent a year writing it, and writing about stuff that had recently happened to me and reflecting on that experience. And then I got together with Gabe Wax (producer of The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, previously) and started working with him on it, and got to do it in a studio to make it a bigger production.
So how do you think your sound has evolved from your early bedroom-produced EPs on Bandcamp and 2017’s “Collection” to this first full album?
Well for one, I think every single step of it got a little more professional, recording-wise. Obviously, the bedroom recordings were stuff I was working on at home, and even those had a progression on the quality of sound, just because I was learning as I went. “Collection” stepped up a little bit more, doing it in someone’s home studio in Nashville. “Clean” is just a totally different level because not only have the songs matured a lot, but the recording process also took a lot longer, and we put a lot more hard work into it. I also had a producer who had much better equipment and great ideas to bring to the table.
The success of “Clean” seems to have given you a wider, loyal fanbase. What do you think it is about your music that resonates with people so deeply?
Yeah, I definitely think the fan base has grown. I think it’s because the songs are a lot more mature and sound better. But I think people come to it because they find something relatable in it, and hopefully because they like the musical aspect of it too—the lyrics and the melodies. I definitely think people just find a way to relate to the music.
I caught one of your sets at South by Southwest this year and you had a pretty solid string of shows lined up. I know you mentioned Fader Fort as the coolest show you’ve ever played. How was your experience in the city of Austin?
Austin was great. I’ve actually been many times, because a lot of my family lives there. Both of my parents were actually Texas Exes.
Yeah! Austin is always great. South By was super cool. It was also kind of exhausting, just because we were playing so much, but the shows were all good and full of awesome crowds. We also got to see some other great bands playing the same days as us. Overall, it was really cool.
You said during your set that “Scorpio Rising” was your favorite song that you have ever written. Lyrically, it’s absolutely beautiful. Can you tell me why you hold that song in particular to that standard?
I like it lyrically, a lot. I love the melody and the chords—yeah, there’s nothing specifically difficult about it to play, or anything. I just love it.
Lastly, I’ve noticed that a lot of people like to label independent female artists as “cool girls” or “relatable girls” or “rockstars,” which you have consistently refuted, or at least, redefined, in your music. What would you say is the heart of Soccer Mommy—or just Sophie Allison—as an artist?
I don’t know, I just like doing it to express my feelings. I don’t really have a goal in playing. I hope, and think, people get something out of it. But I don’t really consider myself anybody’s hero or idol or anything—or that I should be. I’m really just doing it for myself.